Nearly a dozen of Brooklyn’s community gardens were renovated and expanded this year: Parks

person tending brooklyn community garden
Eleven community gardens in Brooklyn received renovations and improvements this year, according to the city’s Parks Department — including new raised garden beds and toolsheds.
Photo courtesy NYC Department of Parks & Recreation

Eleven of Brooklyn’s lush community gardens were renovated and expanded this year, the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation announced last week, receiving new supplies, tools, and more in an effort to make the gardens more accessible and productive for the communities they serve. 

The borough is home to more than 200 such community gardens — in the warmer months, they overflow with flowers and veggies grown by local stewards. In nabes where most people don’t have their own private outdoor space, those gardens give residents easy access to green space, freshly-grown produce, and opportunities to learn about how to grow and maintain a garden in an urban environment. 

crown heights community garden
The department installed 14 new double-raised garden beds, a gazebo, and a casita at the Seasons of Vision Community Garden this year. Photo courtesy NYC Department of Parks & Recreation

Since the 1970s, the Parks Department has managed those gardens via its GreenThumb program — providing funding and support for supplies and programming, plus manpower where it’s needed.

“GreenThumb community gardens are essential to New York City, and we are so proud of the work our team has put in this past year to enhance the efforts of our dedicated gardeners,” said Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue in a statement. “Dotting our cityscape, these urban oases provide expanded avenues to access greenspace for New Yorkers, central to our mission at Parks.” 

In 2022, GreenThumb renovated gardens at three New York City Housing Authority complexes, including the Love Garden at Sumner Houses and the Farragut Houses Garden, according to the Parks Department. The improvements were largely focused on making the gardens more accessible and increasing food production — across the 11 gardens that were fixed up in Brooklyn, GreenThumb installed 200 double-raised garden beds and built 3,5000 square feet of new pathways and gazebos built to ADA standards. New structures like gazebos and arbors lend a little shade and beauty to the gardens, and brand-new sheds and other storage structures will make the spaces a little neater and more secure. 

people at parks department garden
The department helped to renovate hundreds of community gardens citywide — and handed out equipment like shovels, soil, and seed packets. Photo courtesy NYC Department of Parks & Recreation

The renovations significantly increased the growing power at some of Brooklyn’s community gardens — The Sterling Community Garden in Brownsville was previously working with just eight raised beds, a shed, and some garden benches. This year, Parks installed 20 additional beds, a brand-new toolshed, and a new stretch of ADA-accessible path. The garden at Farragut Houses got 38 new raised beds, a gazebo, and a toolshed. 

“For decades, New York City has been fertile ground for the ever-growing community garden movement. GreenThumb is a proud partner with hundreds of volunteer community groups across the city stewarding places that strengthen our neighborhoods,” said GreenThumb director Carlos Martinez in a statement. “These timely and critical investments amplify the social and environmental benefits provided by 554 community gardens. GreenThumb is committed to continue sustaining this citywide network of land stewards. Together, we are cultivating safer, healthier, and more resilient communities.”  

In addition to bringing new and improved infrastructure to Brooklyn’s community gardens, GreenThumb provided day-to-day support all year long — delivering soil, compost, and mulch to ensure healthy plants; providing seed packets, seed starts, and pollinator plants; and distributing gardening tools so those seeds and starts can be planted and tended to by the program’s more than 20,000 volunteers. 

plant giveaway
In addition to renovating and expanding gardens, GreenThumb delivered soil and compost, plus plenty of seeds and seed-starts to community gardens in Brooklyn. Photo courtesy NYC Department of Parks and Recreation

Much of the program’s funding came from the Play Fair for Parks campaign, according to the Parks Department. The large-scale, multi year effort has gained support from hundreds of local community organizations, and, in 2022, successfully lobbied the New York City Council and Mayor Eric Adams to restore millions of dollars in previously-slashed funding for the Parks Department. 

That funding allowed GreenThumb to hire additional staff and do more maintenance and improvements — thanks to Play Fair, more than 40 gardens citywide got new an improved fences and nearly 200 received rat abatement services. 

“The success of the GreenThumb program shows the kind of transformative results that the city can deliver for New Yorkers when we invest properly in parks and open space,” said Adam Ganser, executive director of New Yorkers for Parks. “Expanding the NYC Parks GreenThumb budget was an important FY23 priority for the Play Fair coalition and we are thrilled to see the funding help address urgent needs in community gardens across the city — boosting accessibility, food production and volunteer support for our parks in the process.”